I want to take a few minutes to express my admiration and respect for a friend who just died. I just had lunch with him on July 18th and I found out just yesterday that he died on July 19th – the day after our lunch.
We were part of a regular lunch group who meet every 3 weeks. Jim had been absent from our recent lunch just this week and we wondered what had kept him away.
We’d all met at a pulmonary rehab center where we all battled breathing disorders until Obamacare put the center out of business.
Jim wasn’t just a friend, he was a genuine hero. While the term “hero” has been so widely overused that it has lost its iconic meaning; it is accurate when describing someone who has done heroic deeds. Jim was such a guy.
He was a pilot in the USAF and flew the F84F and later the F4C Phantom II. While flying missions over North Vietnam, Jim was hit by antiaircraft fire, ejected in enemy territory, and was immediately captured.
He spent 2,687 days (over 7 years) as a Prisoner of War (POW). Jim survived daily torture and brutality and lasting effects of that treatment still gave him trouble.
He was released in 1973 during Operation Homecoming. That same year, the former POWs were invited to the White House where he met President Nixon.
In an interview, Jim said, “I find it most difficult to put into words the true feelings in my heart. I am just a man proud to have served my country and quite overwhelmed at the welcome received upon my return to the ‘good old USA’. Only one who has been denied that freedom can truly know the full meaning of God Bless America.”
Jim retired in 1976. He had been awarded 2 Purple Hearts, 2 Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, and a Prisoner of War Medal among his other, more “ordinary” medals.
Unfortunately, Jim had just lost his wife of 61 years just 10 months ago.
Losing a genuine hero like Jim is even more vexing when I see the next generation of “heroes” protesting micro aggressions on our college campuses. Frankly, I can’t see very many true heroes coming out of that bunch. They take freedom for granted and are actively working to diminish the First Amendment rights of those with which they disagree.
What will happen to the United States when we have to depend on this coming generation of snowflakes to protect our American way of life that they are actively working to destroy?
Where will the next Jim Hivner come from?
Rest in Peace, my friend.
P.S. Here’s a link to the reasons for the awarding of those medals for valor, they spell out what Jim did to deserve the medals.